Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy. I am no expert in book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. I will generally try to give a quick idea of what the story is about but avoid any spoilers. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories – and also give my opinion if it is worth reading. Today I will be looking at Kevin Hearne’s Heir to the Jedi.
Originally intended as part of the Legends series Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion, the reset of the canon following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm led to the book being published as a stand-alone story, the third novel released in the new canon.
Set early in the years between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the story follows Luke Skywalker and a new friend Nakari Kelen as they take on a job to rescue a cryptographer working unwillingly for the Empire and reunite her on a safe planet with her family.
“Ah, the Force! The Jedi font of miracles. I find it a wholly mysterious subject.”
Unusually for a Star Wars novel, the story is written in the first person from Luke’s perspective, rather than the third person we usually see in the franchise.
This was one of the first books I read in the new canon and while I didn’t really enjoy it that much at the time, I chose to read it again before writing this review as I found that some other books really went up in my estimation on a second read. Unfortunately, while Heir to the Jedi has its moments, this remains one of the story I am least likely to go back to.
It might take me many years, but I am determined to become a Jedi like my father.
With the entire story shown through Luke’s perspective, there are only 3 main characters: Luke, Nakari and the cryptographer Drusil Bephorin. Of the three, Drusil is arguably my favourite of the characters. Due to mathematics being central to Givin culture, it makes complete sense that they would make excellent cryptographers, while I also love the idea of greeting maths being a custom and also that the species have developed a polite and convenient version for when dealing with less mathematically-minded species of asking an equation that will have the answer of 3. I enjoyed Nakari’s character on the whole, with a fun, flirty and encouraging personality that makes her easily likeable for the reader and being a great way for Luke to start training and learning to use the Force. Both of them are also great in the way they manage to help Luke with his early training, as Nakari encourages him to try to use his power, while Drusil helps him look at the Force and the way it is used from a different point of view. Unfortunately, I was not so invested in Luke as I usually find myself, as he frequently seemed to act and think in ways that felt too immature for someone of his age. I did however really enjoy his journeys towards learning how to use the Force and his trials and failures along the way, including not understanding what Obi-Wan had done to perform mind-tricks on the stormtroopers back on Tatooine. While it does always feel odd to read due to knowing of their identities as siblings, I did like how the novel did expand on Luke’s feelings for Leia, which makes complete sense given the movie either side of this suggests he has an attraction to her.
“Threepio, you enjoy calculating these sorts of things. Whats more likely, reliable cash flow for the Alliance or Han behaving rationally?”
I did like the story’s general plot line of Luke and Nakari’s mission and the other actions that they had to take to help them on the mission, unfortunately I felt that the tone of the story hampered it. With the story that we were getting, it felt like the tone needed to be more serious and while there were moments that were actually very serious and in some moments gruesome, they were also hampered in other moments like Luke slipping over in sewage that really took me out of the story. This probably wasn’t helped either by the decision to write the book in the first person, which already left me feeling that the story felt odd due to it not being in a style I am used to for Star Wars books.
I do however want to give a shout-out to one moment in particular in the book. I will not give any spoilers for those who haven’t yet read the story, but it comes during the climactic final battle when Luke is reaching out with the Force and feeling the presence of those around him. The moment was beautifully written and if more of the story had been able to match this moment, then I would have probably rated this story far higher.
Should I read it?
“Everytime you say ‘We made it’, something bad happens,” I said.
“Correlation isn’t causation,” she replied. “But yeah. Damn.”
I am yet to read a book in the canon that I would recommend should be actively avoided and that still remains the case with this novel, as there are definitely some moments in there that are memorable and worth experiencing. However if you are not a completionist, I feel that the lack of connections to other stories makes this one of the novels that can be missed.
Moments in canon
- Han and Chewie lost their reward from getting Leia to Yavin, leaving them having to find a new way to pay back Jabba
- Luke is a lieutenant in the Rebel Alliance
- Luke is unable to speak binary yet
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…